Hia Interview

Fashion Designer Honayda Serafi to Hia: “I am working on a clear framework for my identity as a global Saudi designer”

She has been described as a creative pioneer of a new generation of world-renowned designers in the Middle East. She has succeeded in presenting contemporary fashion inspired by past inspiration and stories that have made a lot of difference in the history of our civilization. Between the philosophy of design and its simplicity stands Honayda Serafi to translate to the Western world many of the qualities of Arab women who refuse their role to be dictated on them or to be imprisoned by traditional society in a traditional mold… In the following interview, she tells us about beauty and philosophy in her fashion.

– We read a lot about you, what is the thing that we do not know about designer Honayda Serafi?
Maybe not everyone knows that I am passionate about sculpture and poetry, and I consider them my hobbies following fashion design. I also take part in fashion seminars for two Saudi universities. Sharing my experience as a fashion designer with female students is as enjoyable as the fun I feel when designing and launching my collections.

– Has your studying of Islamic art had an influence on your designs?
Of course, a person who has no history does not have a present or future. The study of Islamic art opened my eyes to what is left of the Islamic civilization and the effect of our history on our reality today. Moreover, those who read the history of art discover that we have exported all the beauty industries to the Western world and that we are the source of many forms of art. As an appreciation to our history in arts, I have been interested in heritage and I use it and present it in a contemporary way through my designs. In the end, the rising generations must be connected to their origin and proud of it.

– When did your passion for fashion begin?
Since my childhood, every beautiful thing attracts my attention. And whenever I visit a country, I would love to know about its culture through its costumes and sometimes I would buy some of these costumes or take pictures of them, thus I grew this passion inside me with my love for my heritage and I am using it in my work now as I have mentioned.

– What challenges have you faced as a fashion designer?
The most important challenge was in designing pieces that combine modernity with a touch of loyalty to the past. I was thinking about how to translate my thoughts on the cloth. I say that these clothes are beautiful but they have a strong relationship with and is linked to culture and heritage of those who wear them. I present fashion that says that the woman wearing it is multifaceted and exceptional… strong, courageous, rebellious, and adventurous and at the same time elegant and such these qualities do not diminish her femininity.

– Who is your favorite fashion model?
My ideals are mastery, excellence, and success. There are many difficulties surrounding success but I believe that a person must be armed with perseverance and hope to reach the top.

– Where do you seek revelation in your designs?
From the legends or from the stories that have influenced me personally in which I found a useful reflection on the personality of the Arab woman. In my first collection, I was influenced by my mother as an example of the Saudi Hijazi woman and I used features of her face in the prints of some pieces. My mother is the best woman I know that represents Hijazi history, she is a living representative that can, when you meet her, help you know a lot about our identity and our history.
In the next collection, which I named “Love and War”, I chose to draw inspiration from the story of Abla and Antar, a story that brought together love with perseverance, especially that Abla fought racism before fighting for her lover and I felt through the details of her story that she inspires women to fulfill themselves and seek the truth before seeking to achieve their dreams, regardless of the price. One has to resist and persevere until he/ she has his/ her rights and preferences.
In the last collection that I am preparing to launch, I could not prevent myself from being influenced by the historic event in which we concluded last year’s news in Saudi Arabia, namely, granting women the right to drive vehicles. In light of this happy news, I took it upon myself to document it in a collected that carried many details and features of roads, cars, driving, and empowerment.

– What is the title of your new collection?
The title of the collection is “The Hoopoe Bird”, which was a hero in the story of the Queen of Sheba. It was the best and fastest messenger between the Prophet Solomon and the Kingdom. This bird, which was an example of strength and speed, is not very different from the potential given to women after allowing them to drive vehicles in the streets of Saudi Arabia.

– What does UNESCO’s selection of some of your designs to be the official attire of the organization’s ambassador Vanessa Modley in Paris in 2018 mean to you?
Choosing one of my designs to be her formal gown is undoubtedly a happy news, because it is proof that my collection gave them what they want to highlight in the appearance of their ambassador, whether this is at the level of elegance, authenticity, or exceptionality. Moreover, I learned from the letter addressed to me from the Organization that the selection of these costumes was because they express the independence of women and support their rights and call for peace; all of which are beautiful meanings I was happy that they have seen in my collection.

– What about the fact that the same ambassador has chosen a dress from your first collection?
Alongside the Organization’s choices for some dresses from my latest collections, a very special dress from the first collection has been agreed upon, which is expected to be sold for sale at a charity auction that goes to the Organization. This particular dress has a print that bears the face of my mother as a source of revelation. I believe that these agreements were based on a common approach between the Hunaida brand and many of the Organization’s goals. We agree on the need to support women’s rights and independence.

– Tell us about these experiences and their contribution to refining your identity as a fashion designer?
From the first day, I have been working on drawing a clear framework for my identity as a global Saudi designer, and although I put in mind the importance of preserving the national identity, especially the traditional clothing, I present it in a modern fashion that suites the tastes of the present era. I seek to preserve the documentation of the national heritage and heritage of our ancestors in the field of fashion in addition to integrating it with our contemporary reality.

– What is special in launching your collection from the capital of fashion and high-end couture, Paris?
Paris is the world’s capital of fashion and beauty, its market is not easy and competition is very inspirational and very complex. Moreover, in my opinion, anyone who wants to succeed has to start from the hardest point and not the starting point, and being able to organize my fashion shows there gives me the opportunity to impose my name on the global map and collaborate with the most prominent international fashion platforms.
– What are your plans and future projects?
Empowering and liberating women from traditional stereotypes is the cornerstone of all my future projects, in addition to educating new generations about the heritage, culture, and civilization of the Arab regions. In my opinion, this education depends not only on reading but on the use of other senses such as seeing beauty and looking through it at many of the ideas promoted by our heritage in the first place. In all of my collections, I am keen to present this ancient civilization through what I print and design in each dress.

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Account of Designer Honayda Serafi: @honaydaofficial